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Gestalt Psychology

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Psychology 1910 - 1920
3 schools of psychology opposing Wundt s psychology and Titchner s structuralism
Functionalism objected to the narrowness or structuralism and reductionism Behaviorism rejected study of consciousness for the study of observable behavior Gestalt rejected reductionist approach to psychology maintained an interest in studying the mind
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Beginning of Gestalt psychology 1910 Max Wertheimer on vacation noticed that distal objects seemed to move with the train. nearby objects went past. Why? Study of apparent motion why stationary objects appear to move Began to study this phenomena with two former students of Karl Stumpf Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Kohler 3 .

Apparent motion Phi phenomenon flashing a vertical light that is followed 50-60 msec later by a horizontal light produces the appearance of movement. The light appears to move from vertical to horizontal Movement only perceived if delay was 50 msec 60 The perceptual experience had properties the individual components did not 1st Gestalt paper presented in 1912 4 .

lively. and organized We actively organize perceptions into coherent wholes today the process is referred to as top-down or conceptually driven processing 5 .Basic premise of Gestalt psychology Humans are not passive receivers of sensory information. Our perceptions are active.

not the objects being experienced (Introspection) Wertheimer: the observers task is to describe the object being experienced. How we organize information more important than the individual sensory elements Titchner had his methodology backwards. Titchner: the subjects task is to explain their sensory experience. not describe the experience 6 .Criticisms of Wundt and Titchner Wundt was studying sensory experiences from below instead of from above .

Only one of the 3 elected president of the APA 7 .The Gestalt team Wertheimer: the teacher and lecturer who influenced students and colleagues through seminars and discussions Koffka: the writer and theorist he produced the basic principles of Gestalt psychology in 1935 Principles of Gestalt Psychology Kohler the debater he enjoyed debating and criticizing the behaviorists and structuralists.

Lack of a Gestalt psychology today They spent the majority of their time criticizing others instead of consolidating ideas into practical and testable theories Described how perceptual processes work. rather that theorizing how they worked Others took Gestalt ideas and incorporated them into their own theories Gestalt psychology most important from 1915 to the 1940 s mostly in Germany 8 .

Gestalt principles of perceptual organization Similarity Proximity Good form and common fate Closure Law of Pragnanz 9 .

Geographical versus behavioral environment Geographical environment physical world the Behavioral environment our interpretation of the physical world Our interpretation of organization can produce a behavioral world that is very different from the physical world 10 .

size. the object is perceived as remaining the same 11 . and color constancy Kohler s explanation: when we attend to an object we also attend to its relationship with other objects in the visual display. brightness. If the relationship between the object and other objects remains the same.Importance of perceptual constancy Our perception of an object will remain the same even if the sensory experience changes includes shape.

Insightful learning . WWI began and he was unable to leave until 1917 Conducted most of his studies on insightful learning during this period 12 .Kohler Kohler went of Canary Islands to study intelligence and problem solving ability of great apes in 1913.

and chickens tested dogs. 13 .Studies of Insightful Learning Prevailing theory at the time Thorndike s Law of Effect trial and error and reward Kohler animals have reasoning ability and are not dependent on trial and error Kohler s detour problem children.

the bananas would swing in to their reach Apes first jumped and failed. If the animal climbed a nearby scaffolding. Bananas swung back and forth.Studies of problem solving of apes More complex and required higher problem solving. went to the scaffolding and climbed up 14 . 1st study: Bananas hung from ceiling out of the reach of the apes. but basic paradigm the same: the direct approach would not solve the problem the apes had to find an indirect way to the goal. then looked around.

but was not responsible for learning. 1928) 3 characteristics of insightful learning: Insightful learning solutions result from restructuring the problem the ah ha! The fruit that was provided served as an incentive.Mentality of Apes (1921. The animal solved the problem before they ate the fruit Insightful solutions are characterized by generalizations or large amounts of positive transfer from one problem to another 15 .

except for the south Why? 1925 was the year of the Scopes Monkey Trial.S.Americanization of Gestalt psychology 1925 Kohler came to U. as a visiting professor at Clark University Traveled and spoke all over the U. and it was felt his study of reasoning apes would cause problems 16 .S.

Americanization of gestalt psychology Rise of Nazis in Germany forced many Jews to leave academic positions Koffka left in 1927 before he was dismissed and expelled from Germany Wertheimer expelled in 1933 Kohler. who was not Jewish. Gestalt psychology had become a recognized part of American psychology 17 . but wasn't allowed to leave until 1940 By the 1940 s. tried to leave in 1934.

not just level of production 18 .th Gestalt psychologist ² Kurt Lewin The 4 Only one of the 4 who participated in WWI younger than the others 1st studies our perceptions of landscapes are different depending upon the situation Industrial psychology evaluation of the work environment needed to include job satisfaction.

war effort with his research in group decision making techniques particularly food buying behavior Generally credited with applying Gestalt psychology to real world situations 19 .Kurt Lewin Forced out of Germany 1933 injustice of his persecution greatly affected his psychological work 1930 s pioneered work on democratic and authoritarian leadership and their effect on members of a group Field theory of psychology Assisted in the U.S.

and fight prejudice and destructive attitudes 20 . improve communication.Lewin·s study of group productivity 4 major areas of research Find ways to make groups more productive and prevent the tendency for them to become inefficient Study communication and the spread of rumors Study of social perception and interpersonal relationships Study of leadership training Purpose of these groups of study were to develop effective leadership.

industrial. educational.Lewin·s legacy Seen today as one of the most important psychologists for his contributions of making psychology applicable to real humans in the real world Much of his work on group dynamics still used in counseling. and clinical settings 21 .

Gestalt therapy Fritz created the term Gestalt therapy. but he never read any of the Gestalt psychology books and had no background in Gestalt psychology Others described Gestalt therapy as a misleading entitlement 22 . but it has nothing to do with Gestalt psychology He borrowed some of the terms.

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